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Nursing Homes: Consumer Information

General Advice, Nursing Home Information, Using Information Wisely

Every year over 1.5 million people (of all ages) in the United States spend some time in a nursing home (McKnight's; Kassner and Bectel). Although many return home after a brief stay, others spend their last years as nursing home residents. Whether one plans to stay for a few weeks or a few years, choosing a nursing home is a difficult decision. Nursing homes vary in services provided, amenities available, type of staff, types of residents, and quality of care. Fortunately a great deal of information is available to assist prospective nursing home residents and their families in choosing the nursing home that best meets their needs. This information is largely of two types—general advice about how to choose a nursing home and what to look for when one visits, and specific information that allows consumers to compare individual nursing homes. This entry will discuss these two broad categories of information, explain how the information is gathered, and provide suggestions about how to use the information to make an informed decision.

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